The Era of Sweatpants Has Come to An End

We hope. For the past few years, local designers, style-setters and civic power players have been giving Philly a long-overdue makeover. But does this city have what it takes to make it work as a fashion power?

On an unsettlingly balmy evening this past November, Autumn Kietponglert is crammed—along with tottering models in five-inch heels, their gowns and hot pants manically pinned and tucked, their hair knotted, teased, spiked—into the backstage dressing room at Center City’s G Lounge, where the RAW: Natural Born Artists 2012 Awards is hosting its Philadelphia competition. The hip underground-artist competition is held in cities around the country, culminating in a national awards ceremony in Hollywood. There, honors in eight categories are doled out, including music, art, film and fashion. Arguably, the most important of these is fashion. Which is why Kietponglert is here.

“I’ve never won any award before,” she whispers, the shaved side of her otherwise black-moppy-haired head facing my left cheek. The 30-something designer is one of the four inaugural designers-in-residence at the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator at Macy’s—a selective program that offers a short list of fledgling, ambitious local fashion designers a bona fide business and marketing curriculum. She’s also something of an It Girl right now: Everyone from Ellen Shepp, co-owner of Joan Shepp, Philly’s famously cutting-edge boutique, to the cool-hunting editors at Marie Claire is sizing her up. Little wonder. Her couture line, Autumnlin Atelier, is a brilliant mash-up of Brit couture punks like Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood and the dark, textural moods of Japanese designers like Yohji Yamamoto and Junya Watanabe.

If we’re being honest, it’s not a look you’d necessarily expect from a girl who was reared a stone’s throw away from the Ben Franklin Bridge in South Jersey, and educated in a two-room school in a strict Seventh-day Adventist community. It wasn’t until Kietponglert’s parents enrolled her at the local public high school that she sponged up the teenage punky-Gothy mise-en-scène on the spot and became a born-again fashionista. Later, while earning her master’s at Drexel’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design in 2007, the ex-Adventist created a vision for clothes interplaying the sacred and profane.

“My inspirations come to me from dreams,” says the designer, who today lives in North Philly. “The imagery I see is heavenly and apocalyptic.” Noted. Her silhouettes range from darkly angel-feathered collars to shoulder-covering armor jewelry gorgeously sculpted from metal zippers to regal, ethereal gowns that summon fairy-tale figures of angels or the White Swan. Lady Gaga would gobble up Kietponglert with a steak knife.

At G Lounge, as Autumnlin models whisk down the runway—their feather capelets spreading like Versailles fans, their artfully shredded skirts undulating with every pivot—Kietponglert gnaws at her lip. Finally the competition concludes, and the audience and judges cast their ballots. RAW’s flashy, long-winded emcee concludes his speech about how great Philly’s art scene is—“In New York or L.A., they’ll stab you in the back, but in Philly, we just stick you in the chest”—and the results are announced. Kietponglert wins, and it’s fun to watch: the Goth-y young designer literally jumping for joy.

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  • borntosuffer

    I found out @CharlieGarner25′s real identity – Adam Schein. Strange to lump the two games together as Vick had a 94.7 QB rating against Baltimore. The first interception was brutal. After that, he played very well. These early games just give you a chance to be in it at the end of the season. Best you can be after two games is 2-0 – something 26 other teams can only wish for.

  • Phils Goodman

    The Eagles are incredibly unlucky that they didn’t win both games by double digits.

  • Kev

    So Elliot Harrison writes ”
    While Philadelphia is 2-0, we can’t in good conscience put a team with nine turnovers and two one-point wins any higher than ninth”
    but he has no problem with ranking the Ravens 5th… to that I ask, how can anyone in good conscience rank a team 5th who cannot take advantage of an opponents 4 turnovers and can only score 6 points on two long field goals in the second half?

  • wydok

    Does it bother anybody that the Eagles haven’t been able to get a lot of sacks? I mean, 2 – 0 is still 2 – 0, and they get a lot of pressure, but not as many sacks as I would have expected so far.

    • Mac

      I know Babin stole one from Trent in the first game with a stupid penalty. Might have been another 1 or 2 that were lost in a similar fashion.

    • wpnx20

      I would say no for a few reasons.

      First, we haven’t been playing with leads and forcing teams into tons of obvious passing situations. Despite not racking up huge sack numbers, the Eagles are getting consistent pressure and have already generated 7 turnovers (tied for the league high).

      Next, I think our significant depth along the DL will make a larger impact as the season continues. We’ve already seen Cox take a significant number of snaps and I think Graham has done enough to warrant a jump in playing time. By the second half of the season, offensive lines will begin to wear down while our pass rushers should remain relatively fresh.

      Finally, the Ravens and Browns have two of the best OLs we’ll see all year. The OLs in our division are atrocious. In addition to those six games, we have the Cardinals, Steelers, and Bengals with serious questions on OL.

    • Michael Jorden

      Nope. The sacks will come but what’s important is creating constant pressure and we’ve been doing that. Hits and hurries are getting it done and making life miserable for opposing QB’s. Really liking the DEF as a unit right now!

    • poetx99

      nope. not at all. against kolb this should be a sack + int festival. he gets rattled easily. he has a primarily downfield threat he’s trying to get the ball.

      the goodness in all of this is that last year we got sacks and no INTs. we’ll be getting both. ESPECIALLY after the offense stops shooting itself in the foot and starts getting double digit leads and opposing qb’s have no choice but to air it out.

  • Mac

    So I guess, if the Eagles make it to the super bowl, Vick throws 3 picks yet the offense manages to put 24 points on the board and the opposing team can only put up 20 then we will have usurped the title of worst SB Champion of all time from the Giants.

    • Cranky Caucasian

      Giants have done very well being the luckiest team in the NFL for many years now. If that’s what it takes to win, so be it.

    • barry_nic

      How Lombardi trophies do we have? If Tom Brady, Teddy Bruschi, and rest of the Patriots came down with Malaria and couldn’t play in ’04 and we won, I’d be happy as a clam. The Giants have four trophies, two in the last 5 years, most of those years we were the better team, it just means we under-achived.

  • FMWarner

    Of all the common football statistics, turnovers might be the most random. And so if that’s the Eagles’ biggest weakness so far, then I would not call them fortunate, but unfortunate.

  • Kal

    The Eagles are forcing turn over of their own and playing unified defense. The Offense will take care of itself as time goes on so I am not to concerned.

    I’ve not seen a lazer perfect QB yet this year and don’t expect Vick to hit his mark just yet.